Right, so I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling to Israel on a mission trip with my church, sick, and starting a new job so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read, but I finally finished this book so it’s review time! (there’s gonna be spoilers in this one)
This isn’t the first time I’ve read The Host, but when I got home from Israel and was spending a day lying around my house trying to get over jet lag I found the movie on Netflix, watched it, and, of course, felt a need to read the book again.
What can I say about The Host, it’s pretty typical Stephanie Meyer. I confess, I’ve read Twilight multiple times, it’s my guilty reading pleasure, not because it’s super good, but because you know that it’s all going to be warm and fuzzy in the end, and there’s something comforting about that to me. But this isn’t about Twilight, although I can’t help but point out that there are a lot of similarities between these two stories.
There’s a girl, she’s pretty ordinary, nothing special about her that anyone can see except that she just can’t seem to fit in anywhere and she doesn’t know why, she just doesn’t for some reason. But she’s special, no really, she’s just fascinating to the people around her, especially that one boy from another species who just can’t seem to not fall in love with her despite the fact that the entire rest of his species is telling him that it’ll never work out. Don’t worry, her inexplicable charm wins them all over in the end. Outside of this the plot consists entirely of situations that force the girl to be self sacrificing in order to save the people she love, which manages to result in her and everyone she loves getting everything they wanted. The end.
Okay, now which story did I just describe, The Host or Twilight? It literally could have been either. I mean, okay, there is some variation between the two, but at the core they are basically the same story. Like I said before, that’s what I like about Meyer’s stories, you always know that their going to have a happy ending. So yeah, I enjoy them despite their flaws. Like the totally dramatic form of love that exists in both stories. Seriously, in both stories emotions just seem completely overblown to me. I really think there is a lot to be said about subtlety when it comes to portraying emotions in writing. It has a lot to do with that old writing cliche “show don’t tell,” something that Meyer has yet to master. And as much as we all might want to believe in that completely overpowering love that she writes about, and as much as it might even exist, I think her very dramatized way of writing about it does not do it justice.
Now, on to other things. It is an interesting concept. Alien and human, living together in one body, coming to know and understand each other. Not entirely original, humans being possessed by little alien creatures that attach to the brain stems and cause their eyes to glow has been done before (e.g. Stargate SG-1), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room to explore with the concept. The idea of the aliens as invaders and conquerors, but also gentle and, in many ways, mundane was pretty interesting to me. I think the alien’s version of human society was one of the more interesting things in the book, and I have a lot of questions about it that weren’t answered during the course of the novel. There are also some things that we do learn about it in the book that don’t make a lot of sense to me. For example, if the souls justify their occupation of a planet by saying that they’ll take care of it better etc. then why are they all still chowing down on plastic wrapped junk foods and driving cars that are going to wreck the environment and stuff like that? I mean if their whole deal is that they make a planet better then why haven’t they used their superior technology to fix all the problems in human society? Yes, they “come to experience, not to change” but in order to stick with their own propaganda they would need to change some thing, and that doesn’t seem to have happened in Meyer’s world. The devil is in the detail.
What else is their to say? There is a lot that I can criticize in this book, but I don’t see the point in going into more of the flaws because this isn’t, in my opinion, the kind of book that you read in order to get a really good literary experience. It’s the kind of story you read when you want to read something dramatic and happy with a love story that you know has to work out in the end.
I’ll rate this a 3/5 with points knocked of for all of the stuff that I’ve just written a whole review about and am not going to reiterate here, but I have to give it the 3 because I enjoy reading this book every time I pick it up. Mind you, I can’t read it that often or the drama of it starts to get on my nerves, but once every few years I’ll probably give it a read.